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What's Killing Soap Operas?

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Last week the actors who play Marlena Evans and John Black were fired from "Days Of Our Lives." Is this the beginning of the end?


Veteran soap actors Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn were axed from "DOOL" because of  budget cuts. Those cuts, reports TV Guide, will allow the show to stay in production for at least another 18 months. So why are soaps become endangered programming?

The history of the soap: According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, the term "soap opera" was coined in the 30s to refer to popular serialized domestic radio dramas at a time when these dramas made up 90% of all daytime TV. Even if you hated them, it was hard to avoid them. Now times have changed. With the proliferation of cable, satellite and TiVo, TVs have unlimited possibilities.

What's "mom" got to do with it? Yahoo's Rebecca Detken says life is to blame! Soaps were originally aimed at housewives. Now with everyone's busy schedules, people simply don't have the time to devote to a daytime serial anymore.

When in doubt - blame O.J. SimpsonDan J. Kroll of says the O.J. Simpson trial began the demise of daytime drama. The trial was aired by all major networks and soaps were pushed to different times or eliminated altogether. Perhaps some viewers used the real life crime drama as their fix, but others moved on and discovered the wide world of their remote controls - never to return to the loyal behavior that soaps need.

The ratings: Just how badly have soaps fallen? breaks it down. In 1998, "The Young And The Restless" averaged 7 million viewers a day. Today, it gets receives just 3.6 million viewers. That's almost a 50% drop.

The evolution of the soap: Primetime dramas are cutting into the soaps' market share as well. Series like "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" air once a week, so the time commitment is much more compatible with today's lifestyle. And reality soaps like "The Real Housewives" series and "Jon & Kate Plus 8" repeat throughout the day so those who still do have the time can catch these more realistic dramas when it suits them.

What do you think? Are you still addicted to your daytime drama?

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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tim December 24, 2008, 5:46 PM

The soap opera does what no other medium can give. History. On ATWT we have Nancy the great grandmother who was on the show in the 50s. We have her son Bob and his ex wife Lisa who have been on the show since the 60s. Today we have Bob’s grandson involved in major plotlines. No night time show can allow us to age with their characters. I would hope that even low salaries for actors and less elaborate sets and expensive storylines that the soap opera will continue. I will miss it.

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